For a quick listen (50 minutes – HarperAudio), I do recommend the audiobook of Agatha Christie’s Triangle at Rhodes – it certainly does not disappoint.
October on the island of Rhodes is a veritable paradise of privacy, beauty, and calm—or so Hercule Poirot has imagined. The reality is quite different, as the arrival of famed Chanel beauty Valentine Chantry causes a ripple of malice to be felt across the island. She captivates at least one married man with her wiles and good looks, as her brooding husband watches on. Poirot senses that someone has murder in their heart, and he guesses right. As things come to a tragic head, only Poirot the quiet observer can piece together what has happened in this lover’s triangle.
The progression of events in Triangle at Rhodes is quite classic in relation to many Poirot stories and many of Agatha Christie’s narratives. The setting is presented to the reader, we learn about the main characters, a crime is committed, and then said crime is cleverly solved by our favorite Belgian detective. There are no flashbacks, significant time jumps, or details that are hard to recollect, and yet, it’s impossible not to get wonderfully tangled up in the drama taking place at Rhodes.
Said drama involves a handful of people vacationing, including a beautiful celebrity, her fifth husband, and a married admirer. I won’t say anything more about the love triangle at the center of the narrative, as I don’t want to spoil anything – including the rapturous twist ending.
A substantial amount of dialogue helps the narrative move along to that ending quite efficiently, as does the charming tone of narrator Nigel Hawthorne. I am a lover of long descriptions and explanations in books, but I always look forward to the dialogue in Agatha Christie’s work – Triangle at Rhodes is no exception. Each character’s personality comes through immediately, from the naïve figures to the witty and emotional. While Hugh Fraser stands as my favorite Agatha Christie narrator, Nigel Hawthorne definitely did these characters justice with his narration.
Since this is a short story, and I’ve already said I don’t want to spoil anything, I’m going to end my short discussion with a quote. Versions of it pop up in many Hercule Poirot stories, particularly the ones in which he is not working as a detective, like during his holiday at Rhodes.
M. Hercule Poirot was disappointed with Rhodes. He had come to Rhodes for a rest and for a holiday. A holiday, especially, from crime. In late October, so he had been told, Rhodes would be nearly empty. A peaceful, secluded spot.
That, in itself, was true enough. The Chantrys, the Golds, Pamela and Sarah, the General and himself and two Italian couples were the only guests. But within that restricted circle the intelligent brain of M. Poirot perceived the inevitable shaping of events to come.
“It is that I am criminal-minded,” he told himself reproachfully. “I have the indigestion! I imagine things.”
But still he worried.
Have you read Triangle at Rhodes? Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie short story? Let’s chat in the comments.
- Triangle at Rhodes was originally published in the collection Murder in the Mews (March 1937).
- As of this writing, you can listen to or read the ebook version of Triangle at Rhodes on Scribd (not a paid or affiliate promotion).
- Triangle at Rhodes was adapted for the television show Agatha Christie’s Poirot (S1E6).